Our New Normal; Respecting Apprenticeships

Published on
May 20, 2020
Time to read: 

This week’s blog is going back to the theme of what I’d like to see in our New Normal after COVID-19, what I started writing about two months ago. I want to talk about respect. Respect for all workers, all career and education choices.

North American society and the media put a lot of pressure on our youth. The message that an education is critical to your future success is something that I’ve been hearing my entire life. Unfortunately, the emphasis on a formal education, particularly for university education has overshadowed many other equally valid ways of learning that can lead to a successful, well paying career.

The apprenticeship model is one where experienced skilled trades people mentor and teach the next generation to work in their trade, what they need to know about terminology, tools, and hands on experience. It can be a much more flexible learning model; lessons can be taught in ways that match the apprentices preferred ways of learning. It’s good to know something, it’s better to know how to do that something, because you’ve actually done it, learning what works and what doesn’t.

I want a new normal where our youth are encouraged to follow careers in the fields that they have an aptitude for, that they could genuinely engage in and enjoy, that allow them the opportunity to thrive. I want a new normal were all people, regardless of what their career choice is, are treated with respect.  A new normal where we encourage our youth to follow a trade, and become an apprentice if that is where their strengths and interests are. A new normal that recognizes and celebrates that becoming a skilled tradesperson is significantly more affordable, and results in earning a very nice wage, much more quickly than many careers that require a university degree.

A skilled journey person can earn a very comfortable living, especially if they work in a unionized environment. Even if they’re not part of a union, a skilled tradesperson earns much more than the minimum wage. Many trades include a component of college education. Some require a full-time college program, others offer periods of hands on learning, with breaks for a few months of learning at a college.
I want a new normal that recognizes that people should be celebrated for their differences, and encouraged to build on their strengths, pursuing careers that make them happy, that also contribute to our society. We need plumbers, machinists, horticulturists, small engine technicians, educational assistants, and cooks. 

Please encourage youth to consider pursuing a career in a skilled trade. Please respect those who do work that doesn’t require a university degree. If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, remember, it’s the farmers, food producers, truckers and grocery store workers that kept us fed. They deserve our respect, just as much as those who are working as doctors and nurses.
Let’s not forget about those who are cleaning and disinfecting so many spaces. It’s been proven that the skill of the cleaning staff can significantly improve outcomes in neo-natal intensive care units. That means that the cleaners play just as important a role as the doctors and nurses caring for infants.  Without the people cleaning our stores, restaurants, hospitals and every other building where people gather, we’d be losing a lot more to the pandemic.
Please, in our #NewNormal respect the jobs done by everyone! We all bring value to the team.